Business idioms



Business idioms


Get to know the most popular business idioms which you can use at your workplace.



Meaning: Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week

Example: My friend is an assistant and she has to be available 24/7.


A tough break

Meaning: bad luck, something unfortunate takes place

Example: It was a tough break for the team when Jennifer quit.


Ahead of the curve

Meaning: ahead of trends or current thinking

Example: The new product is really ahead of the curve, our engineers considered the industry forecasts and thought everything through.



Meaning: As soon as possible, quickly.

Example: John, the boss wants to see you ASAP in his office, you’d better get going.


At stake

Meaning: at risk

Example: There is too much at stake to give up on this project.


Back to square one

Meaning: to start something over.

Example: When our initial plan didn’t work out we had to go back to square one.


Back to the drawing board

Meaning: also mean to start something over

Example: We had to go back to the drawing board, when we found out that the prototype got bad reviews.


Ballpark number/figure

Meaning: an approximation, inexact number

Example: We don’t have the exact data, but the ballpark number would be 100 000 magazines sold.


Behind someone’s back

Meaning: to do something without someone’s knowledge

Example: Sue went behind my back and told the manager that I wasn’t finished with the project.


Big picture

Meaning: the entire perspective of a situation

Example: Daniel focuses on the details and just doesn’t see the big picture.


Blue collar

Meaning: someone who works physically rather than mentally or in an office, like in construction, manufacturing, maintenance etc.

Example: My friend enjoys working at a construction site, he is proud to be a blue collar worker.


By the book

Meaning: in accordance with the company policy

Example: John’s company often gets audited and he wants to make sure everything is done by the book.



Meaning: divided equally

Example: We should split the tasks fifty-fifty and we will manage to do the faster.


Game plan

Meaning: strategy

Example: So what is our game plan for the Friday negotiations?



Meaning: Innovative

Example: A cure for cancer would be a ground breaking invention


In a nut shell

Meaning: to put it briefly, in the fewest word possible

Example: In a nutshell the meeting went great and that company is going to be our new client.


Long shot

Meaning: something with low probability of success

Example: Winning this tender bid was a long shot, but still it was worth pursuing.


Nine to five

Meaning: refers to a job during normal working hours

Example: I was tired of my nine to five job so I started my own business.


No brainer

Meaning: an obvious and easy to make decision

Example: Choosing Tom for our team was a no brainer, he is dedicated and hardworking.


Off the top of one’s head

Meaning: to say something without much consideration

Example: If I was to answer off the top of my head I would say that we need to invest more in this project.


On the same page

Meaning: to be in agreement about something, to have the same amount of knowledge on a given subject.

Example: I went over my notes with Flynn, I wanted to check if we were on the same page.


On top of something

Meaning: to control the situation, keep well informed about something

Example: You have to stay on top of this project, if you want it to be finished on time.


Small talk

Meaning: casual conversation about unimportant topics

Example: I hate making small talk in the elevator on my way to work, I’d much rather get focused for the day.


To call it a day

Meaning: making the decision to stop working for the day

Example: Ok team, we’ve been at this for 12 hours; we should call it a day.


To get back into the swing of things

Meaning: getting used to doing something after you had a break from it.

Example: It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after the holidays.


To go the extra mile

Meaning: do more than expected

Example: I like it when my employees go the extra mile and show their dedication to the job.


To go through the roof

Meaning: to increase very quickly

Example: Our numbers went through the roof over night!


To have a lot on one’s plate

Meaning: to have a lot to do or a lot of things to deal with

Example: I couldn’t help Jane with her assignment because I have too much on my plate right now.


To have an ace up one’s sleeve

Meaning: to have an advantage

Example: I should have known John had an ace up his sleeve when he came into these negotiations.


To pull one’s weight

Meaning: to do your share of the task

Example: It’s nice to see everyone pulling their weight in this project.


To pull the plug on something

Meaning: to end something, stop something from continuing

Example: The magazine’s board pulled the plug on my story because too much politics was involved.


To see eye to eye

Meaning: to agree with someone

Example:  I don’t see eye to eye with each and every one of my team members, but I respect them.


To think big

Meaning: to plan ambitiously, on a grand scale

Example: I believe we should think big in this case and open three new locations.


To touch base

Meaning: to talk to someone

Example: Greg, can we touch base after the meeting? I’d like to talk something over with you.


White collar

Meaning: someone working in an office or mentally rather than physically like a manager, bank clerk or a secretary.

Example: White collar jobs tend to be more stressful the blue collar jobs.


Yes man

Meaning: someone who agrees to everything their boss says

Example: We are not looking for a yes man for the new position, but someone with their own idea and dedication.


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